Shop ‘Till You Get Dropped

The “holiday” feeding frenzy is off to an inauspicious start today. The day began, in Nassau County, New York, with a 34 year-old WalMart employee being trampled to death by a mob of early-morning deal seekers who broke down the doors of the building in an earnest attempt to score the very first discounted gizmos.

Not to be outdone by the east coasters, a pair of men in a California Toys “R” Us store gunned each other down after their female companions entered into fisticuffs (in front of their children). The corporate offices of Toys “R” Us, however, issued a statement saying that “it would be inaccurate to associate the events of today with Black Friday.”

Black Friday? I know I’m a bit out of the loop when it comes to these things, but exactly how and when did this day come to be called Black Friday? It’s bad enough that it’s been known as the beginning of “Christmas Season,” even though Advent Season doesn’t even start for another few days – let alone the real Christmas Season, which starts late in December. Of course, nowadays, nobody with any manners would refer to “Christmas Season” for fear of being labeled a religious intolerant. That’s just as well, because “Black Friday” and the rest of the associated seasonal lunacy (murders aside) has absolutely nothing to do with the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, which is, ostensibly, where this whole disgrace began.

No doubt, we will soon enough be assaulted by the annual appeals to “keep Christ in Christmas.” I’m not sure that’s exactly the right solution, though. At this point, that sounds to me too much like syncretism. I think the Church needs to find a way to disassociate itself from the annual orgy of materialism, allow the hostile secularists to extirpate all references to Christ from the public occasion, and offer, instead, a very different vision of the season – one rooted in the reflective and preparatory spirituality of Advent.

  • It’s called “Black Friday” because businesses finally break even, getting their books “out of the red” and “into the black”.

  • I applaud your desire to keep materialism far away from the celebration of Christ’s birth. I attempted that in my recent article in the National Catholic Register, “Keeping Advent Bright” where I suggest that Christmas giving be simple, homemade or secondhand if possible and OVER before the first Advent candle is lit. Did I accomplish my lofty goal this year? Don’t ask, just remember this life is a constant struggle against the Culture of Death.

  • John W Gillis

    @Christina: Thanks for the clarification. I think it’s a silly name, but at least now I understand the rationale.

    @Leticia: Christmas giving before the 1st Sunday of Advent? I’m not sure about that, but I’ll try to find your article and give it a read. Thanks for the comment.